This Is Not A Love Letter

This Is Not A Love Letter

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

One week. That’s all Jessie said. A one-week break to get some perspective before graduation, before she and her boyfriend, Chris, would have to make all the big, scary decisions about their future–decisions they had been fighting about for weeks.

Then, Chris vanishes. The police think he’s run away, but Jessie doesn’t believe it. Chris is popular and good-looking, about to head off to college on a full-ride baseball scholarship. And he disappeared while going for a run along the river–the same place where some boys from the rival high school beat him up just three weeks ago. Chris is one of the only black kids in a depressed paper mill town, and Jessie is terrified of what might have happened.

As the police are spurred to reluctant action, Jessie speaks up about the harassment Chris kept quiet about and the danger he could be in. But there are people in Jessie’s town who don’t like the story she tells, who are infuriated by the idea that a boy like Chris would be a target of violence. They smear Chris’s character and Jessie begins receiving frightening threats.

Every Friday since they started dating, Chris has written Jessie a love letter. Now Jessie is writing Chris a letter of her own to tell him everything that’s happening while he’s gone. As Jessie searches for answers, she must face her fears, her guilt, and a past more complicated than she would like to admit.

Thoughts:

I wanted to read this book after finding out about it at the end of last year. I loved its simple cover and the title made me wonder what it was going to be about. I found this book to be utterly gripping and I devoured it quickly, not expecting it to be as deep as it was.

This Is Not A Love Letter centres around Jessie. Her boyfriend Chris used to send her love letters every Friday since they started dating. Jessie never wrote back to him however much she appreciated them. Chris suddenly disappears after Jessie called for a week’s break on their relationship. Jessie starts to write letters to Chris detailing what happened whilst he was missing. Jessie has a lot of guilt over events that have happened or conversations that were said during their relationship. As the book progresses, Jessie starts to pour out more details. Could it be that Chris was a victim of racial hate crime?

As we read through the story, we learn more about the people in Chris’s life. We learn more about what he is like as a person. Little snippets of information about him start to come through during Jessie’s interactions with others. At the start of the story, we don’t learn much from the detectives. It is not until he had been missing for longer that they started to take notice. This book really is difficult to categorise. Is it a love story? Is it a mystery? It really has a slice of both genres.

It was interesting to see how the author slipped in the possibility that it could be a racial hate crime after Chris had experienced some hate from others in the community. Chris is the only black baseball player in the town and had achieved a full scholarship which made him resented by other baseball players. Kim Purcell has been very clever with this book as she created so many possibilities for what had happened to Chris. It is revealed that he has suffered with mental health problems in the past, so when that is revealed, you wonder if he could have done something to himself.

This book really was a pleasure to read and whilst very sad in points, I thought it was beautifully written. I really enjoyed reading Jessie’s letters to Chris which became more and more intimate and touching as the story progressed. I felt like she began to know herself better and become closer to those around her.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

An unexpected beautiful read. I didn’t expect to enjoy this book so much!

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Notes On A Nervous Planet

Notes on a Nervous Planet

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

The world is messing with our minds.

Rates of stress and anxiety are rising. A fast, nervous planet is creating fast and nervous lives. We are more connected, yet feel more alone. And we are encouraged to worry about everything from world politics to our body mass index.

– How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad? 
– How do we stay human in a technological world?
– How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious?

After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, these questions became urgent matters of life and death for Matt Haig. And he began to look for the link between what he felt and the world around him.

Notes on a Nervous Planet is a personal and vital look at how to feel happy, human and whole in the 21st century.

Thoughts:

I absolutely adored Reasons To Stay Alive. I thought it was such a raw, honest look at depression and anxiety from someone who truly knows how it feels. I thoroughly enjoyed Notes On A Nervous Planet which looks at how technology and the media is affecting our minds.

Notes On A Nervous Planet is an important book because it really explores how technology now can affect our mental health. Goodness knows social media isn’t all that it’s made out to be. We only see segments of people’s lives that they choose to share. Yet we still let ourselves be affected by what we see online. Matt Haig speaks openly and honestly about the dangers of technology and social media and how it has impacted his life.

I love how in both of his books he writes short, witty chapters. Within the pages there’s so much insight though. Matt Haig is a writer that really makes me think. I love the advice he gives as well on how to be happier today. He had some great tips that definitely made me stop, think and discuss with friends. Not many authors can do that.

Reading a Matt Haig non-fiction book makes me feel like I’m talking to a wise friend. I adore Matt’s writing style and his honesty. He honestly made me feel like this messy world could and should be a happier place.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Whilst I preferred Reasons To Stay Alive, I still thought this book was incredible. Matt Haig writes such insightful things that really resonate with me.

The Astonishing Color Of After

The Astonishing Color of After

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.

Thoughts:

You may have noticed that I read a range of new and older releases. I like to try and read some debut authors in the year they publish, so I’ve been making it my mission to read some 2018 debuts over my holiday. I decided to check out The Astonishing Color Of After and I’m so pleased I did. It’s a really beautifully written novel and it astounds me that it is Emily X. R. Pan’s debut. It reads like an incredibly established author had written it. Warning: This book does deal with some very heavy topics so if that’s something that upsets you, then perhaps this book won’t be for you.

It centres around Leigh, whose mother has died by suicide. Leigh’s mother was suffering from depression but Leigh hadn’t realised that things had got so bad. Leigh believes that her mother has come back as a bird and is trying to tell her something about her past. Leigh travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents and to find out more about her family. Her mother hid so much from her. She wants to know why but doesn’t expect to uncover family secrets. As Leigh gets to know her grandparents she learns more about herself than she ever anticipated, despite a language barrier.

I thought this book was really special. It is quite long, but it doesn’t feel like it’s dragging. I’m not usually a massive fan of character driven novels but this one really was a masterclass. Again, my mind boggles at how this book is a debut. I felt so much for Leigh, she was dealing with so much, so young. I also appreciated how Leigh was biracial. I haven’t read many books with biracial characters.

I absolutely loved the magical realism element of this story. If you don’t enjoy magical realism, please don’t avoid this book. It’s written in such a way that it adds to beauty of the story.

This book is special because it discusses how the Asian and American cultures can view depression. In no way does it glamorise suicide and depression and I highly respect that. This book should get people talking openly about mental health.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

This book did feel a little long to me, but I loved the idea and the inclusion of magical realism!

Tender

Tender

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Marty and Daisy spend their lives pretending. Marty pretends his mum’s grip on reality isn’t slipping by the day. Daisy pretends her parents aren’t exhausting themselves while they look after her incurably ill brother. They both pretend they’re fine. But the thing about pretending is, at some point, it has to stop. And then what?

Thoughts:

Aw. This book is heart-breaking but so very necessary. I have enjoyed reading Eve Ainsworth’s books because they tend to be about tough subjects written in a raw and real way. I think it’s so important that young adults have material like this out there to read. Her books do often come with a warning that it has sensitive content within the story- so if you feel like it might trigger you then I don’t necessarily recommend reading them. However, if you can manage to read the tough content then I think you’re in for quite the read. Eve Ainsworth clearly understands teenagers/young adults and their emotions. With every book, I think she nails the emotions needed.

Tender centres around two young carers, Marty and Daisy. Marty’s mum is suffering with her mental health after her husband died. Daisy is living with parents who are falling to pieces due to her brother’s life-threatening, incurable disease. Heart-break. The story follows Marty and Daisy’s journey as they find each other and learn about each other’s lives.

I absolutely loved Marty and Daisy. It was tough to read about them hiding their feelings as they didn’t want to burden their family. I loved it when they found one another and were able to open up and feel better through talking to each other. I have known a few young carers throughout my teaching career so far and quite often they just need to know that someone cares about them.

I loved that this book wasn’t centred around romance. Sure, there’s feelings there, but it’s not the focus of the story. The focus of the story is to think about the now, because we never know what is around the corner. I think that’s such an important message to send out. Eve Ainsworth does it with ease and left me feeling incredibly reflective.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I thought this was a very touching read. It explores mental health in a sensitive but raw and real way.

I Was Born For This

I Was Born For This

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Solitaire
Radio Silence

Synopsis:

For Angel Rahimi, life is only about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are currently taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything – her friendships, her dreams, her place in the world.

Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark too. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band is all he’s ever dreamed of doing. It’s just a shame that recently everything in his life seems to have turned into a bit of a nightmare.

Because that’s the problem with dreaming – eventually, inevitably, real life arrives with a wake-up call. And when Angel and Jimmy are unexpectedly thrust together, they will discover just how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.

Thoughts:

I went into this book with very high expectations after particularly enjoying Radio Silence by Alice Oseman previously.

I Was Born For This centres around Angel Rahimi who is a massive fan of the band The Ark. The Ark are three teenage guys who are exploding around the world. Angel is a super fan. She goes to London to meet someone named Juliet who she met online. Angel and Juliet have tickets for a meet and greet and the show. Angel is completely obsessed with the band. They are her reason for living. The meet up/gig doesn’t go as expected and Angel’s perception of the band is completely thrown up into the air.

The story is told through two narratives, Angel’s and Jimmy, a member of The Ark. Jimmy suffers with severe anxiety, having been thrust into the spotlight. He had been outed for being transgender. Although his fans had been incredibly supportive, it still added to his anxieties.

I really enjoyed the story because I’ve been a part of a few fandoms in my time (I sound like a Grandma!) and I could recognise a lot of the behaviours including ‘shipping’ of band members together. That’s such a thing and makes the story utterly relatable. I also really enjoyed how Alice Oseman represented the idea that we think we know someone but until we meet them in person and get to know them, we never truly ‘know’ them.

There are some fantastic characters within these pages. I loved Angel, Juliet, Bliss and the band members. I thought the portrayal of Jimmy’s mental health was incredibly realistic. Alice Oseman writes well from the perspective of a teenager.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

If you’ve ever been part of a fandom, you need to check out this book!

Ten Book Recommendations If You Want To Read Books Involving Mental Health

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It’s all about love of lists, love of literature and bringing bookish people together. 

This week’s topic has been super tricky for me. I decided to put my own spin on the topic and suggest some books to read if you want to read some books involving mental health/illness. I know if elements of these books were added to each other it would make one hell of a book representing mental illness!

Am I Normal Yet? (The Spinster Club, #1)

I love Holly Bourne’s writing. Her characters are very relatable!

The Time in Between: A Memoir of Hunger and Hope

I really enjoyed this book which was a memoir. I do enjoy reading memoirs of mental health because they are so raw.

Reasons to Stay Alive

Another raw and real take on mental health. I can’t wait to read Notes On A Nervous Planet from Matt too.

My Heart and Other Black Holes

Some moments in this story really hit home for me. A wonderful read.

Belzhar

This is unique! I loved reading this story.

Undone

The ending of this book blew me away!

Lighter Than My Shadow

A graphic novel that shows Katie’s journey through dealing with her eating disorder.

Perfect Escape

I loved how this book portrayed the effect OCD can have on others around those with the disorder.

Highly Illogical Behavior

I adored this book! Totally relatable characters.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

Another non-fiction. For me, a book that involves mental health should have an element of realness in order to relate to it. All too often, books around mental health have an instant ‘fix’ and that’s not even a possibility… it makes my blood boil.

Please leave me a link to your Top Ten post this week. I can’t wait to see how you tackled the prompt!

 

Clean

Clean

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

I can feel it swimming through my veins like glitter … it’s liquid gold.

When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she’s hit rock bottom.

She’s wrong. Rock bottom is when she’s forced into an exclusive rehab facility.

From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady.

As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all …

It’s a dirty business getting clean …

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Thoughts:

Hmm. I had heard mixed reviews before starting this book. I really thought it was going to be another 5 star read as so often Juno Dawson’s books are. However, it’s not a 5 star read for me. It’s a 3 star. Just. Before going into this book, please be aware that there are massive trigger warnings. It’s a book about addicts. There’s bound to be something that will trigger others. It totally doesn’t mean it should be avoided or not written about. I just think if you’re ultra sensitive maybe steer clear.

Clean begins with Lexi’s brother Nikolai taking her to an exclusive rehab centre. Nikolai had found his sister almost comatose after a drug binge. The rehab centre looks amazing, like a luxury holiday on an exclusive island. However, Lexi isn’t going to find the ‘break’ easy. No alcohol and definitely no drugs. Lexi has been taking the hard stuff. As a socialite she is able to fund the habit and her boyfriend’s habit too. Coming off the drugs is brutal. Juno Dawson doesn’t hold back as she documents Lexi’s road to recovery. As Lexi becomes clean she meets many peers all under the age of 25 whose issues include anorexia, overeating, sex addiction and substance abuse.

I think something that is important to mention is that Clean doesn’t glamorise drug use. It shows it to be an awful, ugly addiction which can change your mindset and seriously affect your health and your relationships. There are some incredibly mature themes so I definitely would say this book is towards the end age range of YA.

Part of this reason why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I wanted to, was that I found Lexi completely insufferable. I couldn’t relate to her whatsoever. Whilst I did feel some sympathy for what she had gone through, I didn’t really connect with her. I often just rolled my eyes when she said or did certain things. I also thought some of the language was unnecessary. I get it, in points, it’s needed but I personally thought that some of the language was banded about for the shock value.

P.S. That cover will never be ‘Clean’ from my fingerprints #bookwormstruggles

Would I recommend it?:
Yes- with caution.

Not what I expected, but definitely a raw and uncomfortable read!